Chapter 19 - Curiosity
Ezekiel trudged home much much.....much later. The sharp cool night hurried him along one of the dirt paths leading up through his tall grasses and onto his pouch.
All three storied of his family’s mansion was dark. No candles flickered in any of the third story windows where his parent’s room was. Ezekiel knew that that meant that it was well past two in the morning. He normally saw his mother’s candle burning as she waited for all of them to return form their various patrols, but there were only a few lights shining and all of those were on the bottom floor.
He burned with curiosity even as his eye lids begged for sleep.
Had the mortal in fact survived the surgery? Was he awake or was he still in a haze of pain and unconsciousness?
But he also burned with a need to fall into the bed.
His hands and feet throbbed from slogging around mile after mile from one village to another. And his thighs and backside hurt from where repeated head butts and ramming’s from unruly sheep had been delivered to his lower body. For the last three hours. He now understood all too well why his brother Lander had put off the cleaning of the Sheep Pins for the last few weeks and deep deep down he cursed the blond devil to the depths of hell. As he clattered up on the pouch he growled and kicked off the mud and hay caked boots on his feet into the railing. In frustration he decided that he was going straight to bed.
After all.....He had another day of this particular patrol shift until his dad said otherwise.
Ezekiel walked into his house, closed the door and navigated the darkness seamlessly up to the second floor. He made plenty of noise as he walked, letting his family know that he was in fact a friend and not an enemy skulking in the night.
Ezekiels knew that sneaking up on other Shifters at night was a clear sign of ill motives. Predators only walked on fleet feet when they hunted after all. So taking the necessary time to stump his way up the steps, he soon found himself walking down the one hall that still had light in it. The hall leading to the mortals room and coincidentally the same hall that all of his brothers shared.
Each level of Ezekiels home was built in rectangles, stacked one atop another to for their three story home. Excluding the basement, which was only a small square beneath the bottom floor, where the entrance, living room, kitchen, sparing room and day room were all located. The seconds floor was an inter-connected rectangle of eleven, fully furnished rooms.
One of which Ezekiel knew the mortal now occupied. Ezekiel also knew that his brothers Nate and Walter occupied the room’s way on the opposite side of the rectangle. While Lander and Ezekiel had beds on the shorter side of the rectangle where only one bedroom resided for the two sides.
Ezekiel made his way down the hall as a huge yawn broke out of him, but he couldn’t bring himself to pass the mortals room without at least checking if he really was still alive.
The need to know was eating away at him, even as he tried to ignore it.
Why do I even care?
Ezekiel had to ask himself as he leaned into the mortals door ad pressed his ear to the wood.
Nothing at first, just the lingering scent of old blood. Ezekiel pressed his ear against the wood harder, strained for a sigh. He held his breath without knowing it.
Then he heard it. A soft, slow heart beat.
He gasped and dropped his head back. And as a wave of extreme relief rolled over him he realized that he really did care far too much. But for now, he was too happy to care anymore.
Maybe I could.....
He thought to himself reaching form the mortal’s door knob. Then he shook his head.
No, I’d better not.
Ezekiel scolded himself, then walked away. He was able to pass the mortals room as he made his way to the end of the hall past three empty room and made his way to his room. The hall before his room was pitch black so Ezekiel navigated it swiftly fighting off the childish curiosity that tried to take him over.
His father wanted him to stay away from the mortal and for once he wasn’t tempted to test the waters.
He retired, stripped and tried to get to bed.
So half an hour later, Ezekiel was both surprised and reluctant to respond to the sounds coming from the mortal’s bed room as he stepped out of the shower and began to towel off the moisture. Ezekiels room was five rooms away from the mortals, but Ezekiel was strangely attuned to every sound that he made.
When the Mortal had begun shifting on the mattress, Ezekiel had caught the sound of the sheets moving and had paused to listen for further distress. Cocking his head to the side and letting the beast inside lend him its senses but....there was no other sound for some time.
Until he had stepped out of the water and now there was a frenzy of movement. Like the mortal was kicking or clawing at his mattress.
He’s moaning again.....
Ezekiel thought to himself as the soft drawn out cries fell on his sensitive ears. But...why? Was he in pain? Was he dreaming again? Didn’t his mother give the stranger enough morphine to last through the night? Ezekiel wondered to himself.
All of these thoughts came over him, egging on his curiosity. He desire to get up and walk back to the mortal’s room....and take a look. Ezekiel continued to listen to him thrash as he dried, slipped on a pair of briefs and slippery black sweat pants and a black t-shirt. He sat back on his bed, letting a fresh towel catch the water from his hair, and.....grew more and more anxious.
“Didn’t anyone else hear that?”
He began to hiss. As he pulled the towel over his head and started drying it.
“Maybe I need to go and wake mom up?” he said talking to himself.
But...he didn’t really want to do that.
He wanted to assuage his curiosity.
I’ll just check on him. If he needs more morphine....then I’ll grab mom.
He decided. Then he shook his head, and tossed the towel onto his floor. Not thinking about the fact that his dad was only a few feet away from him, Ezekiel left his room and went back to the mortal.
Once he got there Ezekiel listened to another drawn out moan and shook his head.
“God I hope he doesn’t start yelling again.” He said to himself.
Then not wanting to get caught or chicken out Ezekiel turned the door knob and swiftly disappeared inside.
The room was pitch black after he closed the door behind himself, but Ezekiel didn’t need much light to navigate the room. The mortal’s voice led him right to his bed side. And Ezekiel felt more then saw him kicking and twitching around on the mattress. Ezekiel reached out intending to find the cover and pull it back over the mortal quickly, but suddenly the mortal seemed to sense his hand and grabbed hold of it.
“Please....!” the mortal whispered squeezing his hand. His skin lik burning coals making Ezkeiel jump.
“Please what?” Ezekiel whispered at him leaning closer. He refrained from pulling back as he tried to calm the man.
He didn’t understand what the mortal was trying to say. So he tried to ask him again. “What’s wrong?”
“Please.” The stranger seemed to whisper, his voice so subdued that Ezekiel knew that he was still unconscious. Seeing things no one else could see. “Stop it!” the mortal shouted suddenly pulling on Ezekiels arm.
“Stop what!? ” Ezekiel whispered back at as he tried to listen for the sudden approach of any of his family. Then breathed in relief when he didn’t hear a thing. Ezekiel barely made out the mortals face in the darkness, but he sounded so unhappy, that Ezekiel knew that he was probably going to start screaming again if he didn’t find a way to calm him down. But he was still confused.
“Please stop it....” The mortal whispered fiercely squeezing his hand and moving he head to the side. “Stop hurting me!”
“Oh. You’re in pain again?” Ezekiel mumbled more to himself them to the mortal. Something told him that the man in the bed still wasn’t completely lucid. His skin burring in fever attested to that, as did the incoherent sentences he was uttering. Ezekiel squeezed his hand back slightly to see if that would help to calm him.
“Here. Does this help you?” he said to the mortal. He squeezed his hand again and the mortal squeezed it back. A prolonged squeeze that lasted the length of his next moan.
Ezekiel hissed as the stranger’s nails bit into his hand. Trying to calm him down Ezekiel put a hand to his head and patted his scalp softly careful to avoid the gash on his left temple. He soothed his short blond strands back. Secretly surprised when it was as soft to the touch as he had thought.
“Shhh. It’s okay.” Ezekiel slowly sat down on the ground and let the mortal have his hand since it seemed to calm him to hold something.
The mortal flinched from his touch, but Ezekiel just brushed his hair back and dropped his hands. His grip was tight and stiff, but it wasn’t so that Ezekiel couldn’t handle it. He let the mortal squeeze his hand for a long time after that. Off and on accompanying one slim moan after another until he started to drift off.
The stranger seemed to calm down after that, but as Ezekiel tried to put his head down on the bed next to him and get rest while he waited for the stranger to fall unconscious again.
The mortal began to stammer and shake in his sleep.
“Co....cold....” He mumbled shifting slightly on the bed. He looked like he was trying to burry deeper into the mattress, but all of the cover that he had had before was on the floor and to Ezekiel the stranger felt like a burning inferno. His skin like a towel soaked in boiling hot water.
“No.” Ezekiel said softly, squeezing the strangers shaking hand. “You’re too hot right now....you don’t need cover.” He knew that the mortal couldn’t really understand him, maybe he couldn’t even hear Ezekiel, but he seemed to calm before after Ezekiel talked to him so he hoped it worked now. “You’ll only be cooler if I cover you up.”
“Co.....coldddd. “The man moaned, clutching at Ezekiels hand again. “So cold.....”
Ezekiel tried to sooth him form his spot on the ground and talk him to sleep. But this time talking didn’t quiet him. And Ezekiels arm and legs were falling asleep the longer he spent in that awkward position next to the bed. Ezekiel put the strangers hand back on his chest and walked around the bed. The man whimpered as he moved away but Ezekiel quickly pulled his hand back into his own as he climbed onto the mattress next to the mortal. The mortal moaned and shocked him by shifting back into his side.
Ezekiel struggled with how strange this would look if he got caught, vs wanting to get the mortal calm and back to sleep. Finally giving up, he turned the mortals back to him and pulled him against Ezekiels chest. So that he was mostly encased by his arms and chest.
Man if this guy wakes up and slugs me...I would totally deserve it!
Ezekiel thought to himself as continued to hold him and his hand. For all Ezekiel knew this guy may not have been as accepting of dudes climbing into his bed as he was, but Ezekiel liked to think that he wasn’t just doing this because he was a little interested. He knew that he genuinely wanted to get the mortal back to sleep and feeling comfortable. So he could possibly heal faster.
Sleep was the key to a healer’s success. His mother had drilled that into him and all of his brothers a long time ago. He knew that she had just taught them that rule to make it easier for her to force them into bed rest, if one of them ever got a serious injury. But he also knew that it was still partly true.
Shifters were known to heal better if they took a load off and allowed the beast inside too work on closing the wound.
He knew that mortals didn’t have a beast inside of them like Shifters, but the same principle had to apply to them. Right?
Ezekiel also knew that Shifters were warmer than other creatures so he hoped that he could help the man feel better by getting closer to him. But the mortal just pressed back into him and continue to whimper.
“Cccc...old. I’m cold.” He moaned.
The mortal shivered beside him, shifting in his spot his teeth chattering in a painfully loud rhythm that worried him. He knew that the stranger was running a fever, but some people didn’t feel comfortable enough to sleep at night if they didn’t have some cover on their skin.
Dammit! Mom would kill me.....but once hes asleep I’ll take them off.
Ezekiel hissed, pulling his closer, but refraining from squeezing him lest he hurt the mortal’s side. So, knowing that he was gonna be dead if his father discovered him there Ezekiel quickly reached into the dresser next to the bed. He quickly pulled out two fresh folded sheets and threw them over the mortal.
The stranger moaned again and squeezed Ezekiels hand as he tucked the cloth around him. Ezekiel felt the mortal’s heat through the thin cloth, his heart beat was sluggish and slow, but drummed hard and deep in increasing anxiety. But Ezekiel just stayed close and soon his moaning quieted down and there was nothing left but his labored breathing.
But Ezekiel had the strangers shivering slightly managed and his breathing even began to even out so he just let the minutes tick away, waiting for the stranger to calm. And still he held Ezekiels hands. He clutched on to the Shifter for dear life.
Ezekiel waited a long time wanting to pull away and get the heck to his own room, but the bruises in his legs began to throb. He became warm sitting next to strangers ragging body temperature and he became reluctant to move.
And soon he didn’t hear anything because he had fallen to sleep.